‘Pakistan providing covert support to Taliban’

Washington: Despite the United States pressuring Pakistan, the Islamabad Government is still supporting the Taliban terrorist group in the border region with Afghanistan, revealed United State Army General Joseph L. Votel.

According to the Washington Times, during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, when asked about the continued Pakistani support to Taliban, Gen. Votel noted, “I cannot tell you that we have seen decisive changes in the areas in which we’re working, but I remain very well-engaged with my partner to ensure that we are moving forward on this.”

On recent increase in Taliban attacks in Afghanistan, Votel said, “Having sanctuary in Pakistan or having support from other actors in the region certainly is an aspect of the Taliban’s success here.”

The Washington Times report further quoted an intelligence source close to the Afghan border region as saying that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan is continuing its covert support for the Taliban in the border region.

“ISI is providing both protection and material support to the Taliban in areas between Quetta and the Afghan border,” the source said.

The insider revealed that the ISI is working along with the Pakistani Army in Taliban in Pashtun ethnic areas of Balochistan province in the northwestern part of the country.

“In Pashtun areas which are close to Quetta, religious groups are operating madrasas” – Islamic schools, the source said. “Among these groups, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam is most active. Under Sami ul Haq’s leadership, madrasas are creating new soldiers for Taliban in Balochistan’s Pashtun belt.” Maulana Sami ul Haq is a Pakistani cleric regarded as “the father of the Taliban.”

“We believe top Taliban leadership are operating from Pashtunabad, Gulistan and surrounding areas,” the source added.

The report highlighted that Taliban is working with the ISI in another small border district called Killa Abdullah, about 44 miles from Quetta, capital of Balochistan.

In that area, Taliban fighters have been spotted along “with automatic weapons either in motorbikes, or [in] four-by-four vehicles along with two to five companions,” the source said.

The source further revealed that the local police is not allowed to stop the Taliban fighters from traveling from Afghanistan to Pakistan.

“These people freely travel in Quetta, Chaman and all surrounding areas,” the source said. “Civilian [police] forces cannot intervene because they work under ISI and military apparatus. The police are also powerless and are afraid for their own security.” (ANI)